Uber has rolled out their ‘UberChopper’ service in China celebrating one year since its official launch in the country. The five-year-old U.S. ride-sharing app launched service in Shanghai 12 months ago. Uber representatives said today that they would be launching the service on April 25th.
The service starts and ends with UberBlack transportation to a helipad near downtown Shanghai. Riders will board a EC135 helicopter and take a 30-minute arterial tour over scenic spots and landmark buildings in Shanghai. The service will cost RMB3,000 (US$ 484).
UberChopper will be a one-day pilot program for the time being. The China office will decide whether to continue the service according to market feedback.
Uber has offered similar chopper services in several cities around the world since last year. Unlike other cities where the service is considered a means of transport, UberChopper in China is currently only a sightseeing service for tourists since the Chinese government has yet to open aerial space for low-flying aircraft. At the moment, all such flights have to apply for administration approval one day before.
Over the last year, Uber has expanded rapidly and it now operates in nine Chinese mainland cities. With the operation of a local teams, the company launched a series of local services and operations unique to the Chinese market, such as cooperation with local partners like Baidu, Yongda Automobile, integration with Alipay and the launch of People’s Uber.
Similar to most of foreign enterprises, Uber also encountered several major setbacks in exploring Chinese market. In addition to the uncertain legal status in China, competition in the country has stiffened recently with taxi-based options Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache joining forces recently to form a strong monopoly on the market.
Recently, China’s Minister of Transport recently said that private cars will never be allowed to operate as commercial vehicles. The transit authorities in Beijing and Shanghai, among other cities, have recently cracked down on car services that allow non-licensed drivers to make a profit.
Uber launched the ‘People’s Uber’ in several cities, which allows civilian ride sharing but does not cost more than the actual cost of the ride. This skirts the law since the service is not-for-profit. Although the service does not make any material gain for Uber or the drivers, it is acting as a place holder should the service become legal in the future.